Eye-opening insights from 700+ product managers & leaders.
Along with the four values of the Agile Manifesto, there are 12 principles you need to be aware of. These principles go into a little more detail and expand upon the four values.
Let’s take a look:
“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”
It’s always been important to keep your customers satisfied. With SaaS products, that’s even more true. It’s easy for your customers to churn and find another product if they aren’t happy.
This agile principle encourages teams to shorten the gap between initial ideation and releasing a working product. The sooner customers can use your product, the sooner you can collect feedback and make the appropriate improvements.
“Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”
The SaaS seas are always chopping and changing. The only way to keep your head above water is to adapt.
To do so, you need to constantly monitor any changing requirements no matter when they occur. You need to welcome the chance to further improve your product based on shifting market and customer needs.
“Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.”
The agile philosophy says consistently shipping new releases is a far better alternative to packaging all the releases up and releasing them at once. These smaller releases are often the result of sprints, and they enable teams to validate ideas and gather feedback. They also help keep your customers satisfied.
“Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”
Building a product in a silo is a surefire way to make sure it misses the mark when it comes to business requirements. As product leader Marty Cagan puts it, a product is about customers, business objectives, and technology, not just one of the three. If any piece is overlooked, a business will not be aligned and all functions will suffer as a result.
Frequent communication between cross-functional teams ensures trust, transparency, and, as a result, better and more relevant products.
“Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”
An agile team is only as good as its members. Take the time to build up a team of people you can trust to complete work of the highest quality.
If you have the right team in place, all you need to do is give them the right working environment and any support or resources they need. This removes the need for hand-holding and micromanagement.
“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”
Communicating in real-time is essential when it comes to the fast pace of software development.
Tools like Slack and email come very close to offering real-time interaction. However, there’s nothing quite as effective as talking face-to-face. Even in remote teams, video calling makes this easier than ever.
“Working software is the primary measure of progress.”
Don’t get distracted by detailed documentation or other vanity projects. Essentially, software teams have one job: to build and release working software.
Focusing on this one measure of progress enables agile teams to work efficiently at shipping new releases.
“Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.”
Though the fast pace of an agile team might suggest the opposite, this Agile Manifesto principle explains that sustainable development is important.
This means ensuring a good work-life balance and maintaining high morale throughout the team. Doing so leads to output that is consistently high-quality.
“Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”
The Agile Manifesto encourages teams to constantly release new features and updates to the product. Despite this, it also acknowledges the importance of maintaining quality in releases.
In other words, making sure that code is neat and tidy and that the product design allows for seamless development in the future. This keeps the development process running smoothly as time goes on.
“Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.”
Don’t juggle development time across a wide range of irrelevant activities. The Agile Manifesto suggests that teams should spend the majority of their time on the few most important things.
To do this, teams need to think strategically and ruthlessly prioritize the features they work on.
“The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.”
In traditional hierarchical teams, there will generally be somebody at the top of the chain making the final decisions. The Agile Manifesto encourages a less rigid chain of command. A flatter hierarchy, where everyone gets an equal say, can lead to more effective software development.
“At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”
One of the core tenets of the Agile Manifesto is that teams should always develop their products based on feedback. The same applies to the team’s processes and methodologies. As time goes on, teams should consider how they can become even more efficient and agile. It’s all about continuous improvement.
While the Agile Manifesto doesn’t rank the principles in any particular order, there are several key patterns that emerge. The need for continuous feedback is one. The role of effective communication in product development, another. Finally, the ability to be flexible and change directions quickly and smoothly.
Perhaps the most important lesson to take from the 12 agile principles is that you need to remember what you’re there for. As a software development team, your primary goal is to develop and release software. Agile principle 7 says that working software should be the primary measure of success. Having that as your north star will ensure all the other agile values and principles will fall into place.
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